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Where should the line be drawn? At what point do you begin to hold a salesperson to a new process you have implemented as your standard if the status quo still produces adequate results?
How much leeway should be granted for factors such as tenure, experience, and personality?

Tags: effectivness, management, personality, process, uniqueness

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You may as well be asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin! When I was installing BDC's all over the country a few years ago while working at RCS, this issue came up every week... The only thing that ever seemed to really work well was when we made structural process accomodations. for example, I remember a dealership where there was 2 salespeople who got every single lease renewal that came into the dealership. Between the 2 of them they sold 40 to 50 cars a month and they wanted nothing to do with changing any processes in any way that would allow the store to grow its business or improve. The Dealer was petrified that these 2 guys were going to quit and as such they basically ran the sales department via destruction and mayhem of all process implementation attempts. I actually remember their names, but will not disclose! Anyways, I convinced the dealer to build a separate office for the 2 boys wonder and then I recruited an f + I person who had quit working at the dealership because she had a baby and could not handle the hours. You see, these 2 "Car Salesmen Terrorists" had so many bad habits in putting deals together with incorrect documents, 3 year old recycled credit apps, etc. that the office manager broke down into tears when she tried to explain to me how bad the situation had gotten... But, the Dealer was afraid of losing these 2 guys because they sold so many cars to lease termination customers! Ooooohhh I still get mad thinking about this store!!! Anyways, we isolated the 2 Sales Terrorists so as to minimize the damage they did to the rest of the sales department, the "Contract Administrator" (the f+I refugee) that we put into place to "proof" every deal jacket before it went to the business office restored mental stability to the office manager, and we were able to implement the lead management and sales processes we had been trying to get in place. Previous to that, the salespeople were always saying things like "but tweedle dee and tweedle dum don't follow the process, why should we?". This was eliminated because our 2 terrorists now became a seperate team, where their nefarious and counter-productive behaviors could be isolated from the rest of the store.

On the other hand... If the processes you are trying to implement do not have "situational management" features and capabilities built into them, and they do not offer "Results Based" if/then customer contact triggers, or they try to apply a one-size fits all series of static, canned responses to every Internet lead, then they suck anyways and I am with the sales departrment insurgents trying to buck them!

If you try to make salespeople do everything exactly the same way every time, regardless of the type of lead, the source it came from and/or the customer's situation, then you don't need salespeople, you need robots... or a call center in India, or something certainly a lot less costly than a genuine sales professional!

Whatever your process implementation is based on, make sure you have measurment points that are accurate and hard to falsify, and then tie the sales people's pay plans to it... Heck, i have done that many times, retained 90+% of the people we wanted to keep, and after several months when they start selling more cars, it becomes as if they were always doing it that way... However, if the process you want to implement doesn't sell more cars, then it sucks anyways and I am with the sales insurgents (again)!

How do you know it works? When the salespeople executing whatever it is sell more cars than the ones that don't! On the other hand, if it is process implementation for the sake of satisying someone's ego, then get rid of the ego... This is a results based business, and our lead management processes should be results based. for example, when someone tells me they have a process for handling leads that does not include IMMEDIATELY sending out price quotes on at least 4 vehicles to leads that are "Request for Quote" ty
Bear in mind, I am not a sales trainer. I have several sales trainers on my staff, I consider myself to be a management consultant, working directly with GMs, GSMs and Dealers.

We have a saying I authored 20 years ago... "Average people with great processes can produce incredible results."

In other words, the process rules and no one is exempt. Once the law is established there is no room for outlaws. When we meet with dealers and the decision-making managers, we arrive at the mechanics of the process. Currently, we are working with 98 companies that own dealerships in 49 states (haven't got to Alaska yet). We have companies that operate 35 dealerships and others that own one dealership...all types of markets.

Inveritably, there is always one or two 'Prima-Donna' sales people who feel they should be exempt from the process. remember, the process is agreed and designed with us and the dealer and the managers. Almost every dealership we work with has a slightly different process customized with them. Every decision-maker is 'bought in'...not something we're forcing.

Usually, these people who make the loudest noises, we call them the 'mutineers'. They are usually those guys (gals) that want to manage themselves...and their deals are all mini-deals...Their whole career is made of mini-deals and spins.

These people are not harmless. They infect the entitre sales force and destroy the process. If the dealership has a dedicated BCC (business communications center) then there are processes there as well. My philosophy has always been that the BCC should have the ability to 'make deals' without having to be pencilled.

When the Dealer and the Senior Managers choose a process there has to be 'execution'...it is up to the mutineers to decide which definition of that word applies to them. JIM
"Usually, these people who make the loudest noises, we call them the 'mutineers'. They are usually those guys (gals) that want to manage themselves...and their deals are all mini-deals...Their whole career is made of mini-deals and spins."
"These people are not harmless. They infect the entire sales force and destroy the process."
Usually those that are bucking change the hardest are those that would benefit most from its implementation.However if forced will,consciously or not ,do everything in their power to "prove" that the new process doesn't work.
Unfortunately many times salespeople,like water, will follow the course of least resistance yet erode the very bedrock as they go.
Thanks for the input.
I never pick and choose or delegate one type of lead to one person. Out of the five people that work in my department they all range in experience from 1year to 20 years. I train them everday we all work in the same space, they listen to me when I am on the telephone and better yet I listen to them. I have two shifts and I keep the lead count as equal as possible. I like the leads answered in five minutes or less so if I see two of them talking or not calling customers, then I try and get them a lead if possible. I look at the performance everyday of each sales person, I touch every lead in the CRM and mark them with my initial or make comments or I pick up the telephone and call the customer. I work with, and for my sales people, we all share ideas and I have a very dedicated staff, I am very blessed to have five individuals that stay with me and work with me everyday.

So to answer your questions,1. I draw no lines 2. I hold them responsible everyday but better yet they hold themselves responsible. 3. They have as much leeway as they want as long as they are getting the job done.
As far as I am concerned " adequate" is never good enough. The only reason that my department is able to consistently sell the way we do is because of the process. It takes 28 days to make something a habit. Which in the car world is a very common time frame. Coming from a female perspective, I would suggest a more gentle approach. Salespeople are always resistant to change and the traditional "Do it or your fired!" just doesn't get the results you are looking for. I would get everyone's opinions on the new program. What do you like about it? What do you hate? Do you think it will help you sell more? Then overcome the salesperson's objections to doing things your way. One thing you can't do is let them believe that it a temporary process, because they will just not do it to prove that it doesn't work, and then hope at the end of the month they can tell you "I told you so". Let them know that you are open to suggestions, and the process is open to change. You have to prove to them that YOU have created a process that YOU know will work better. Whenever I have to change something I always remember that the way to salesperson's heart is one of three things: 1: Money (spiffs etc) 2. Food and 3. Alcohol (not a good thing during work hours though)
The "old sales dogs" are going to be a problem no matter what. I would suggest before you tell anyone else about the new process that you go to them first and say that because they have been there so long that you want them to help you implement a new process. Tell them that the other salespeople look up to them, and you know that you can't implement a new process unless they are on board. Make them be invested in the process' success. It took me awhile to figure out the "dealership psychology", but I always know to make the guys feel like part of it (no matter how small) was their idea.
Amanda says... As far as I am concerned " adequate" is never good enough.

There is an original Ziegler one-liner I tell Dealers whenever I speak to their 20-groups, it is...

"Don't brag about being 'average'. Average is the exact point where 'Sucks' starts."
Great quote. Mine is close..."You only suck if your think you are better than you are".
Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. If you can consistently train your staff on a daily or weekly basis of the internet sales process (which is what I suppose you are referring to), you will be able to eventually deem it as the word of God (or the word of the owner if that's how they perceive themselves). When monitoring success and failures, find prime examples of team members following the proper process and praise them in front of the group. I always talk to specific instances during our Saturday morning meetings of salespeople following the process I have in place and how it benefitted THEM. Not the dealership or the customer, but them. If you can build value in the process for a salesperson, they will take ownership of it and make it a customary process.
I hate holding team members' feet to the fire and threaten them if they do not follow the rules. However, I don't believe in spiffing them for following my process either. For instance, I shouldn't have to incentify them for obtaining walk-in customers' email addresses when it behooves them to do it in the first place.
If a team is opposed to following a process, try to discover during some 1 on 1 meetings as to why they feel their process is better than yours. You will quickly be able to overcome their objections and sell them on your beliefs.

If all else fails, Not seniority or top sales person status makes them above the law. Take away certain priveleges and force them to buy in. This is a last case scenario. Not worst case...last case. Worse case is you do nothing, they follow their own protocol, and you are held responsible for a process deemed ineffective because no one is willing to embrace it.
Don't worry about their personality. I simply outshine their personality. No matter how negative they are, I am more over-the-top positive (or enthusiastic or forceful) and outweigh their behavior with my belief in the system.
Hope this helps.
Joe Webb
Arlington Toyota Scion
Great commentary, Joe! Your style reminds me of my own... Over-the-Top Positive is a great way to approach managing sale steams. Nobody loses when sales professionals are positive and upbeat, even if by sheer force of management personality!
I think you have to hold everyone to the new process. Especially if the new process will bring dramatic results. I remember being on the sales floor as a Green Pea and I was taught the correct process and within 1 month I was selling as many cars as the "Big Hitters" and after 2 months of following the correct process to a tee, I was the Top sales guy as a green pea. Now the old timers didn't follow the process at all and because of experience they were allowed to do what ever they wanted. The interested part was to see new green peas come in later, they make friends with the old-timers and begin to fall into the bad habits that the old timers were in. They didn't sell many cars and within a few months they were out of the business. I know that if the old timers would have been required to follow the correct process, they would have probably out sold me and been more successful.
Sometimes it also makes the difference who it is holding them to a new standard. If its the GM or someone in the dealership who is well respected, implementation will be easier. Also, if you get buy-in especially from those who you are concerned might buck the new system and they fell like they are being included in the creation of the new process it will certainly be more effective.
Process is vital in the BDC. Handling a Customer through the Internet or Phone as compared to an Up is completely different. Yes personality should be a huge factor in the setting of the appointments, but set and followed processes are what make a BDC Department work right. If you have processes that make sense for every type of lead and they have proven results.. Then most of the time, they may be bucked for a little while, but once they have seen the light everything usually gets hammered out. You will still have the old car dogs ( as I call them ) that have their set ways and want to buck the system. It's the nature of the business. I tend to try and keep people working in our Department that understand that we do these things for a valid reason and they do work. Again most of the time it does work out.

I have found that if an Old Car Dog has an idea that I think may work, I will let them prove it to me. If they get a certain result and I think our Process can do better, I will have them do it their way for a week.. then my way for the next week and see the results. We learn everyday we are on this planet, so there may be something out there that will work great for others and I am always willing to hear it out. But most of the time, the processes we have developed do work, and they are implemented by everyone.
David,

You point out the willingness to experiment and compare results... This is mandatory for continuous improvement and as long as the samples are big enough and the comparison is based on full execution, this is the ideal way to refine and improve what you are doing in a BDC or Internet Sales Department as an ongoing corporate culture.

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